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November 9, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 9, 2012 Gaza rockets close Beersheba schools for a day By Israel Hayom Exclusive to Two Grad rockets fired from the Gaza Strip ex- ploded near Beersheba in southern Israel last Sunday morning, prompting Mayor Ruvik Danilovich to close down the city's schools for the day. Fire continued overnight last Sunday with more than 15 rockets exploding in Israeli communities border- ing the Gaza Strip, with no injuries or damage to struc- tures reported. Hamas's military wing, Izzedine al- Qassam, took responsibility for the attacks. Despite the renewed hos- tilities, schools in Beersheba were open [the next day] and operated as usual. PAGE 15A In an interview with Army Radio, Danilovich said. "In recent years, missiles were fired directly into educa- tional facilities while they were empty. We are not pro- tected, and as long as there is not full protection within the education system, I will put human life first." Earlier that Sunday morning, Israeli militaxy forces along the Gaza Strip border fence were targeted with a salvo of mortar shells. The Israel Defense Forces identified a launch squad preparing to fire rockets into Israel and the Israel Air Force carried out a subse- quent airstrike. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said the early morning strike killed one Palestinian man anck wo.unded another. The iden- tity of the dead Palestinian was not immediately known. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit later said forces had launched another air attack that also targeted a rocket launching site. No casual- ties were reported in the second airstrike. Meanwhile, during the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the government was ready. to provide rocket protection and fortifications for awider radius from the strip. "Today we are about to make the decision to com- plete the fortification of the southern communities," he told his cabinet. "Until now, residents of the south living up to 4.5 kilometers (2,8 miles) from the Gaza Strip have been given full protection. The addition of the Iron Dome missile defense system provides protection to communities 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the strip and beyond. We are left with the area in between." "In this middle area, schools have been fortified, and today we are deciding to fully fortify all structures, homes [and] residences, and this will obviously grant security to residents of the south," Netanyahu said. "We are doing this because the vulnerability to short-range rocket attacks is far greater in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip than anywhere else. I think that this will answer the needs and hopes the residents of the south have had for a long time." i The prime minister's proposal was unanimously approved by the cabinet. The cost of completing fortifica- tions in the region comes to about 270 million shekels ($70 million). The cabinet authorized Netanyahu to come up with a source of funding within 30 days without having to bring the subject to a second vote. Subsequently, The Jewish Agency for Israel announced last Sunday that it will pro- vide 40 million shekels for the fortification of houses between 4.5 to 7km from the Gaza Strip. The funds will be used to build-protected rooms in resi- dential housing in the area. The protected spaces will be built by the Jewish Agency's subsidiary company, Ami- gour, which is responsible today for the building of 5,000 protected spaces in Sderot and other communities in the Gaza area. In addition to the con- tribution from The Jewish Agency for Israel, the cabi- net approved an additional allocation to be spread ver three years for the building of protected spaces in the Gaza area. Jewish and Israeli lead, ers attending the Jewish Agency's Board of Governors in Tel Aviv were briefed on the decision. The Board of Governors meets three times a year to hold in-depth strategic discussions about issues affecting the Jewish world. Greek Jews strategize on how to combat Golden Dawn By Gavin Rabinowitz strongweapon against mis- efforts of other Greeks. they ATHENS, Greece (JTA)-- For every Jew who lives in Greece, there are about 100 Greeks who voted for the country's neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn, last spring. The party now con- trols 18 seats in Greece's 300-member parliament, and its popularity is ris- ing rapidly: A poll taken in October.showed that if elec- tions were held again today, Golden Dawn would capture 14 percent of the vote, mak- ing it Greece's.third-largest party. A September poll showed that 22 percent of Greeks have positive views of Golden Dawn, up from I2 percent in May. With its swastika-like- flag, gangs ofblack-shirted thugs attacking immi- grants and its ideology of Greek racial superior- ity, Golden Dawn's sudden and significant rise has prompted condemnations from around the world. It also has put many of Greece's 5,000 Jews on edge. Community leaders already have begun a cam- paign to educate Greeks about the dangers of al- lowing a neo-Nazi party to flourish, and Greek Jews are trying to-figure out what more they can do to arrest Golden Dawn's rise. "We definitely think that a very basic tool to promoting social equality and combating the rise of extremists like Golden Dawn is educating school- children," said Zanet Bat- tinou, director the Jewish Museum of Greece. The museum and its programs teach visit- ing schoolchildren about Greece's Jewish commu- nity, its heritage and, in particular, about the Holo- caust, in which more than 80 percent of Greek Jews were murdered. The museum also has set up a traveling exhibition, works extensively with Greek schools to aid in teaching about the Holo- caust and, together with the Israeli Embassy i n Athens, sent 24 Greek teachers to the International School for Holocaust Studies at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem. "It certainly is a very information, bigotry and prejudice," Battinou said. "But the biggest benefit is, and, to teach young people to think for themselves." While Golden Dawn mostly has targeted those it holds responsible for Greece's dire economic plight andits international humiliation--immigrants from Asia and Africa, politi- cians and the Communist opposition--the party also has a clear anti-Semiti:. streak. Golden Dawn's leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, denies there were gas chambers o ovens at Nazi death camps and has a penchant-for giving the Nazi salute. Statements from the party refer to Israel as a "Zionist terror state." Party spokesman llias Kasidiaris, who made international headlines when he punched a female Communist Party member in the face during a live television debate, recently read out a passage from the anti-Semitic forgery "The Protocols Of the Elders of Zion" in parliament. "We must react to ev- erything they do against the Jews," David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communi- ties in Greece, told JTA. "We protest, we fight in every instance where there are displays of anti-Semitism and will not let ourselves fall down. We take every measure we can within the spirit of democracy." The Greek Jewish com munity is also trying to maintain a dialogue with the government and main- stream po!itical parties and urging them to take a stronger stand, according to Saltiel. Outside Jewish groups are stepping in, too. In re- sponse to the rise of Golden Dawn, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which assists Greece's 500 Holo- caust survivors, has begun funding the Greek Jewish museum's traveling exhibi- tion on anti-Semitism. "For survivors that went through what these people went through during the war, many of whom were saved by the underground never expected that in their lifetime they would see Greek support for a Nazi- like party," said the Claims Conference's chairman, Ju- lius Berman. "There must be complete horror." Golden Dawn's political ascendance has been fast and furious, propelled by a Greek public weary of five years of economic depres- sion, massive unemploy- ment and what they see as Greece's international humiliation and its betrayal by the politicians who got them into this mess. Simi- lar factors led to Hitler's rise inWeimar German, some have noted. For years, Golden Dawn had lingered as a tiny party on the fringes of society. In the 2009 elections, the party won just 0.29 percent of the vote. But in elections in May and a do-over in June, the party captured just under 7 percent of th.e vote. Its popularity has been growing ever since. Given the relatively small size of the country's Jewish community, Jewish leaders are aware that their.efforts may appear like a drop in an ocean of hate and that they alone cannot fight Golden Dawn's rise. "It is not possible for only a few thousand remaining Jews. There must be main- stream involvement or a big segment of the mainstream like newspapers, universi- ties and the politicians," said Hagen Fleischer, the emeritus professor of his- tory at the University of Athens and an expert on the Holocaust and the German occupation of Greece. The Austrian-born Fleischer, who is not Jew- ish, organized a public event aimed at countering the growth of Golden Dawn, bringing Holocaust survi- vors to tell their stories. But, he says, "You cannot solve the problem of Golden Dawn only with enlighten- ment or telling people there really was a Holocaust." Initially, many Greeks and leading politicians downplayed the party's rise, dismissing it as a knee- jerk reaction from Greeks looking for a shortcut out of the country's economic crisis but who did not really identify with Golden Dawn's , ,  , . " . YouTube GreeCe's Golden Dawed party leader Nikolaos G. Michaloliakos denies there were gas chambers at Nazi death camps. fascist ideology. As Golden Dawn has become more brazen, vio- lently attacking migrants, gays and Communists, disrupting theater produc- tions deemed bl.asphemous and holding racist events like setting up a blood bank for pure Greek blood only, Greek political leaders have begun to mount a stronger response. In October, parliament voted to lift the immunity of three Golden Dawn mem- bers of parliament accused of attacking .immigrants. Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias announced the creation of a special police unit to deal with racist violence--a welcome move after repeated allegations that police were deliber- ately turning a blind eye to, or sometimes even col- ludingwith, the black-shirt gangs in their attacks on foreigners. Perhaps most signifi- cantly,, the head of the Church of Greece, Arch- bishop Ieronymous II, spoke out. "The Church loves all people, including those who are black, white or non-Christians," he said. Saltiel says these devel- opments give him a glim- mer of hope. "If all the political groups, the church, the universities and the media come together to try and put things in the right way, I think that this will change," he said. Either way, the Jewish community will keep up its efforts. "I frankly don't know if it is enough, but it is .something," Battinou said. "And several small sources of something will hope- fully amount to something far-reaching in this dark tunnel of racism and anth Semitism."